A new collaboration

We are delighted to announce a partnership with the Scotland’s oldest university that will see our photography become part of one of country’s most important photographic archives.

This new collaboration between the University of St Andrews and Document Scotland will unite some of the oldest photographs in Scotland with contemporary documentary images. The initiative will see the university – custodians of the oldest photographic collection in the country – support our photographers’ work on current projects. Between us, we will develop a rich new strand to the collection that will ultimately form a unique cultural resource for generations to come.

His Father's Breeks. Photograph by D O Hill & R Adamson, 1844.

His Father’s Breeks. Photograph by D O Hill & R Adamson, 1844.

 

Boyd Tunnock CBE. Photograph by Sophie Gerrard, 2013.

Boyd Tunnock CBE. Photograph by Sophie Gerrard, 2013.

 

This will mean that images being made today by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Stephen McLaren, Sophie Gerrard and Colin McPherson will reside in the archive alongside work by early photographic pioneers such as Hill and Adamson, John Thomson, Thomas Annan and James Valentine.

The four members of Document Scotland are currently working on projects which reflect the current state of the nation. As a non-political collective, Document Scotland’s work looks at stories, themes and ideas which form a backdrop to current affairs. This important new strategic partnership will support contemporary photography at this pivotal time in Scotland’s modern history.

In the Vault, Dundee. Photograph by James Valentine and Sons, ca. 1865s

In the Vault, Dundee. Photograph by James Valentine and Sons, ca. 1865.

 

Glasgow doo'cot in the snow. Photograph by Stephen McLaren, 2012.

Glasgow doo’cot in the snow. Photograph by Stephen McLaren, 2012.

 

Colin McPherson commented, “We are very excited about this partnership with one of the world’s most celebrated and important photography collections. The financial and logistical support offered to us by the University of St Andrews will allow Document Scotland to record what is happening in the country today and continue the important work of creating a visual legacy for this and future generations. We look forward to working with the university’s Special Collections Division and contributing to their extensive and world-renowned photography archive.”

The university’s Special Collections Division holds over 800,000 images from the 1840s onwards. Building upon the strength of its 19th and 20th century holdings, the partnership with Document Scotland launches a new forward-looking direction for the future character of the Photographic Collection. The University of St Andrews is funding a substantial acquisition of new work by Document Scotland to be incorporated into the Library’s historic Photographic Collection. By proactively building relationships with Scotland’s photographic community, the university aims to both support and safeguard contemporary, socially relevant and poignant documentary photography for future scholarship and discovery.

A Cyprian Maid. Photograph by John Thomson, 1878

A Cyprian Maid. Photograph by John Thomson, 1878.

 

Rangers football fan. Photograph by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, 2012.

A Rangers football fan. Photograph by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, 2012.

 

The University’s Photographic Archivist, Marc Boulay, said, “Our reputation was built on the strength of our holdings of Scotland’s earliest photographic practitioners. But our collection needs to look to the future. If we are to represent the visual heritage of Scotland, it is essential that we support talented photographers who are creating vibrant and engaging work today. Our bonds with these photographers will ensure that the future of our collection is rich, providing a uniquely Scottish cultural resource.”

Scott Monument, Edinburgh. Photograph by D O Hill & R Adamson, 1843.

Scott Monument, Edinburgh. Photograph by D O Hill & R Adamson, 1843.

 

Pro-Independence demo, Edinburgh. Photograph by Colin McPherson, 2013.

Pro-Independence demo, Edinburgh. Photograph by Colin McPherson, 2013.

 

Document Scotland are looking forward to working with the University of St. Andrews and thank Marc Boulay and his colleagues for their interest in, and support for, our work.

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Face to Face: The Portrait in Photography Today

Document Scotland are very happy to have been invited to host ‘Face To Face: The Portrait in Photography Today‘  an evening of portraiture, conversation and photography  on Wednesday 14th May at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

You can expect a lively evening featuring work by the four members of Document Scotland as well as special guest photographers; Arpita Shah, Ben Roberts, Graham MacIndoe and Emily MacInnes. The evening will be chaired by Annie Lyden, International Photography Curator at The National Galleries of Scotland.

Doors open at 7pm, allowing you a chance to look around The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 before proceedings begin at 7:30pm.

We very much hope you can join us – please book your tickets through the Eventbrite page here

and we look forward to seeing you!

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Five by Four

An image from Catching the Tide by Colin McPherson, all rights reserved

An image from Catching the Tide by Colin McPherson, all rights reserved

 

Our busy year of events has begun: an exhibition of work by Document Scotland opened earlier this month at the Scotland House Conference Centre in Brussels.

Entitled Five by Four, the show comprises separate bodies of work from the four Document Scotland photographers, each of which were responding to themes and ideas behind the Scottish Government’s Homecoming 2014 initiative.

An image from This Scottish Sporting Life by Stephen McLaren, all rights reserved.

An image from This Scottish Sporting Life by Stephen McLaren, all rights reserved.

 

Helen Wright, the events and visits manager for the Scottish Government EU Office in Brussels takes up the story: “I work closely with the cultural diplomacy team in Scotland to devise a programme of events and exhibitions for Scotland House in Brussels. It was on a work visit back to Scotland last summer that my colleague Anne Diack first highlighted the work of Document Scotland to me. She mentioned how both the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, Fiona Hyslop, and minister for international development, Humza Yousaf, had visited Document Scotland events and suggested that we explore the possibility of working with them to curate an exhibition showcasing Homecoming 2014 to an international audience.”

An image from The Common Ridings by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

An image from ‘Unsullied And Untarnished, The Common Ridings’ by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert,© 2013 all rights reserved.

 

Helen worked closely with us to develop the brief for the show – an exhibition of conversation pieces which linked to the Homecoming themes of food and drink; active; arts and culture; natural and ancestral. The result was the creation of the exhibition Five by Four which included the following projects: Unsullied And Untarnished, The Common Ridings (Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert); Catching the Tide (Colin McPherson); Drawn to the Land (Sophie Gerrard) and This Scottish Sporting Life (Stephen McLaren). The exhibition is displayed in the Scotland House Conference Centre in the heart of the European quarter in Brussels and can be viewed by Scotland House visitors.

An images from Drawn to the Land by Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

An image from Drawn to the Land by Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

As Helen commented: “The exhibition has already received lots of positive feedback since its installation on 2 April and I look forward to providing many others with the opportunity to view the exhibition as our busy calendar of events continues.”

Five by Four follows on from the hugely successful National Geographic exhibition which beautifully showcased the Year of Natural Scotland and an exciting exhibition by talented students from the City of Glasgow College’s fashion unit which highlighted the Year of Creative Scotland.

Five by Four at Scotland House Conference Centre, April 2014

Five by Four at Scotland House Conference Centre, Brussels, April 2014

 

Five by Four is scheduled to continue throughout 2014 and visitors to Brussels are welcome to get in touch with Document Scotland to arrange access to the exhibition.

We would like to put on record our thanks to Helen Wright and her team in Brussels, exhibition installer Will Mulholland and also to Anne Diack, team leader of cultural relations for the Scottish Government in Edinburgh for their help and support for the project. The work was expertly printed by Loxely Colour, and our thanks goes to Calum Thomson and his team there also.

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Journey’s end

The fence which separates Scotland and England in the Cheviot Hills. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

The fence which separates Scotland from England in the Cheviot hills. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

After a year exploring Scotland’s 96-mile border with England, Document Scotland’s Colin McPherson finally reached the point of no return. Here he explains some of the discoveries he made during his journey from the Sark to the sea.

“Photographers love journeys. From its earliest history, our predecessors found new locations, often in far-off lands, to explore and record epic adventures and discover new territories.

My journey was slightly different, in that it involved coming ‘home’. As an exile in England, I have long had that slightly schizophrenic feeling of being rooted in two places: the home where I live with my family, surrounded by people and places I love, things that I do and familiar feelings. The place where I belong. Then there’s the other home: the place where I am from, which still tugs at my heart, makes me grimly nostalgic and longing for the smell of the heathery hillsides and the breweries of Auld Reekie.

Pointing the way in the Cheviot hills. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

Pointing the way in the Cheviot hills. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

So for me, the voyage of discovery I set out on 12 months ago along Scotland’s frontier with its southern neighbour was always going to be about much more that the physical geography of the border. More even than the political, social and cultural similarities and differences between the people whose lives straddle the divide. No, it was always going to be about me and how I feel about Scotland, about what has happened to my nation in the past and what awaits her in the near and distant future.

The summit of the Cheviot, shrouded in fog and mystery. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

The summit of the Cheviot, shrouded in fog and mystery. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

I set out without a plan, but with a head full of research, ideas, themes and possibilities. I left a lot to chance: encounters led to conversations and I found myself talking obliquely on subjects as diverse as bowling in Gretna, Black Rock hens, God, salmon fishing, shopping in Kelso and even, occasionally, that referendum.

The border is much more than rolling hills, fresh air and tiny towns nestling in the landscape. The people are as diverse as almost anywhere else on these islands. The characteristics of the Borders are often defined by battles, poets, rugby and farming. But there’s more there if you care to look hard enough. And there’s the border itself. Half mirror, half barrier? Or a feathered edge which simultaneously unites and divides and at the same time defines.

An undignified entry into Scotland. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

An undignified entry into Scotland. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

With the exception of a winter expedition to conquer the mighty summit of the Cheviot (whose apex peeks over into Scotland from Northumbria), I undertook the whole project on my own. On that occasion my companion was my longest-standing friend, fellow artist and exile, Scott Anderson. On the freezing slopes we were little boys again, imagining we were part of those invading armies of yore, engaged in creating historical facts on the ground. The warm welcome of the pub at Kirk Yetholm brought us back into the 21st century, wind-battered but happy.

Home from home. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

Home from home. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.

 

The full story of my year on the roads, hills, fields and lanes will be told at Document Scotland’s forthcoming ‘Beyond the Border’ exhibition at Impressions Gallery, Bradford (1st July – 27th September, 2014) where my project, entitled ‘A Fine Line’ will be shown in full for the first time.”

 

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